A provisional deadline of 5 November 2020 has been set by the EC for the completion of a review into the proposed merger of British mobile network operator (MNO) O2 UK and multi-play provider Virgin Media. As noted by Mobile World Live, the deadline marks the European regulator’s initial examination of the tie-up and, while it could give the go-ahead for the deal at that date, it is more likely that given the size of both operators, a more in-depth competition investigation will follow. Should such an extended review be required, the EC would be expected to announce this prior to the November deadline it has set for its initial merger investigation.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2020 O2 and Virgin Media’s parent companies – Spain-based Telefonica and UK-based Liberty Global, respectively – confirmed a deal aimed at creating ‘the leading fixed-mobile provider’ in the UK’. At that date it was announced that the companies had inked an agreement to merge their operating businesses in the UK to form a 50:50 joint venture (JV). In unveiling plans for the merger, Liberty Global and Telefonica said they anticipated the closing of the transaction ‘around the middle of 2021’.